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									Existing Tenants Survey 2008
Tenant perspectives on social landlord services




                                                  1
Existing Tenants Survey 2008
Tenant perspectives on social landlord services

Contents
Introduction                                                      3
Key findings                                                      4
Overall satisfaction with landlord services                       5
Analysing the key drivers of overall satisfaction                 9
Opinions on being a social sector tenant                          12
Services social landlords should provide                          14
Scope for trading off rent levels and landlord responsibilities   16
Satisfaction with specific social landlord services               17
Landlord handling of complaints                                   20
Conclusions                                                       22




                                                                       2
Introduction
The Existing Tenants Survey (ETS) is a large and comprehensive survey of social housing
tenants owned by the TSA. It comprises 19,307 interviews with general needs tenants, 808
with supported housing tenants and 1,147 with shared owners. The interviews lasted 30
minutes on average and were conducted in the tenants'/shared owners' own home. The
survey was undertaken by MRUK and interviews were conducted between August and
October 2008 for tenants, and February to April 2009 for shared owners. The sample was
selected from landlords' lists using a stratified random sampling approach.

The ETS was undertaken on behalf of the Housing Corporation in 1995, 2000 and 2004,
comprising 10,000 interviews with housing association tenants (general needs and supported
housing). The same sampling method and, where appropriate, the same questions, were
used for the 2008 survey. However, in 2008 the sample was extended to also include local
authority and ALMO tenants.

A series of reports have been produced using ETS data, each focussing on a key theme or
sample. Full details of the methodology, the questionnaire and the full set of reports are
available on the TSA's website:
www.tenantservicesauthority.org

This report focuses on the survey findings specific to tenant perceptions of social landlord
services. As well as drawing on the ETS, this report also makes some reference to other
recent survey data which sheds light on tenant views about social landlord services. This
report is based on the 19,307 of these relating to tenants living in general needs housing.

The analysis for this report has been carried out by Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and
by Ipsos MORI.




                                                                                               3
Key findings

   Generalising across all services provided, ETS returns showed more than four out of five
    tenants (81%) were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their landlord. There was also
    evidence that overall satisfaction rates had tended to rise steadily in recent years
   In terms of landlord service provision, the most significant ‘key drivers’ of overall
    satisfaction were the perceived effectiveness of repairs services and the extent to which
    the landlord was seen as maintaining the home in a ‘decent’ condition
   More than four out of five tenants (84%) cite specific ‘good points’ about being a tenant
    in their sector – most commonly the opportunity to benefit from a ‘good repairs and
    maintenance service’. Fifty per cent cite ‘bad points’ about renting from a local authority,
    ALMO or housing association
   While ten per cent of tenants would be willing to pay a higher rent for ‘extra services’,
    29% said they would accept more responsibility – eg dealing with minor repairs – in
    return for a rent discount
   Just over three quarters of social renters (76%) were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with
    their landlord’s repairs and maintenance service, although there were proportionally
    more discontented tenants in younger age groups
   ALMOs appear to slightly outperform their counterparts elsewhere in England on tenant
    satisfaction with repairs and maintenance. There were also signs that housing
    associations with the most ‘disparate’ housing stock evoke slightly weaker ratings. In
    terms of the way that repairs are undertaken, the attitude and tidiness of repair
    operatives was particularly highly rated
   Across the sector as a whole, there was evidence of steadily rising rates of satisfaction
    with repairs and maintenance services in recent years
   About one in seven ETS tenants (14%) had made a ‘complaint’ to their landlord in the
    year preceding the survey. Over half of these exchanges remained ‘ongoing’ at the time
    of the fieldwork and ‘dissatisfaction with the overall service’ was relatively high among
    tenants with an ‘unresolved complaint’. Nevertheless, in a majority of the recent
    complaints ‘resolved’ at the time of the survey, the complaint had led to the problem
    being ‘solved’ or the provision of an explanation as to why this was not possible




                                                                                               4
Overall satisfaction with landlord services
The great majority of tenants professed themselves ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the
‘overall service’ provided by their landlord – see graph Overall Satisfaction with Landlord
Services. As shown in the graph there was virtually no difference between landlord types in
this respect. The results set out in this graph confirm the well-known tendency for younger
tenants to be less content than their older counterparts. A factor reflecting material
circumstances rather than simply age-related expectations might be that young people are
more likely to occupy less popular dwellings than their older counterparts. An indication that
this is true – albeit to a limited extent – is the finding that some 50% of tenants aged 18-24
occupied flats, compared to only 41% of tenants aged over 651.

Other than the contrast between younger and older tenants, the differences in ‘all satisfied’
and ‘all dissatisfied’ ratings attributed to the groups listed in the graph appear generally
modest. However, more marked differences emerged in relation to the proportion of tenants
professing themselves ‘very satisfied’. On this measure Muslims and other Asian and black
tenants stood out more clearly as less content than their white counterparts. This appeared
to be partly related to the differing age structures of the ethnic and religious groups being
examined here. The Asian, black and Muslim cohorts contained disproportionate numbers of
younger people. Hence, if we focus our analysis on tenants aged under 39, the differentials
are smaller than those shown in the graph. However, while it is possible that such
differentials would be further reduced if analysis were focused solely on people aged under
30, sample sizes for the non-white/non-Christian cohorts become rather small if restricted to
this extent.

Also of interest in relation to housing association tenants was the considerably lower
proportion of ‘very satisfied’ tenants whose landlords operated in more than twenty local
authority areas. This could reflect the challenge faced by larger, more disparate, housing
associations in providing services equal in quality to those offered by more geographically-
focused landlords.

Differences in satisfaction rates according to property type and estate/non-estate location
were relatively modest. Of course, the responses analysed here related to ‘overall
satisfaction with landlord’ rather than property. Nevertheless, it might have been
anticipated that tenants’ views about the former would be coloured to some extent by their
opinions on the latter. This did not appear to have been the case.

Focusing on dissatisfaction rates, contrasts between the different groups identified in the
graph Overall Satisfaction Rates with Landlord Services were generally fairly modest. For
example, the overall proportions of black and Asian tenants unhappy with the landlord
service were quite similar to figures for their white counterparts. Probing more deeply,
however, differences emerge between tenants of different forms of landlord. Whereas some
13% of black tenants of local authorities and ALMOs were dissatisfied, the proportion in the
housing association sector was only four per cent – somewhat less than the housing
association and LSVT sector norm (seven per cent). Exactly what underlies this pattern is
difficult to explain from this data.



1
  Unpublished data from the Survey of English Housing 2006-07 showed that 11% of flat-dwellers were
‘dissatisfied with their accommodation’, compared to only four per cent of house-dwellers.


                                                                                                      5
                           Overall satisfaction with landlord services

    100%

     90%
                 32%                       28%                       29%                    29%                   29%
     80%

     70%

     60%

     50%
                 50%                       54%                       53%                    52%                   52%
     40%

     30%

     20%
                 12%                       12%                       11%                    13%                   12%
     10%
                  5%                        4%                       5%                     4%                     4%
      0%          2%                        2%                       3%                     2%                     3%
                     LA                   ALMO                       HA                     LSVT                  ALL

                                 very dissatisfied    dissatisfied    neutral   satisfied   very satisfied



Base: 19,145 responses (LA: 4,963; ALMO: 4,999; HA: 5,577; LSVT: 3,606)

Note: excludes don't knows and refusals

Overall satisfaction with landlord: breakdown by selected characteristics
                                         Very        All       All dis-                      Very dis-       Base size
                                       satisfied satisfied* satisfied**                      satisfied
 All                                      29         81           7                              3           (19,307)

Respondent    aged   18   - 24                   16             71              10                 4         (1,117)
Respondent    aged   25   - 39                   25             78              8                  3         (5,032)
Respondent    aged   40   - 54                   27             80              7                  3         (4,990)
Respondent    aged   55   - 64                   32             83              6                  2         (2,735)
Respondent    aged   65   plus                   37             86              4                  1         (5,314)

1 elder                                          40             86              4                  1         (3,336)
2 elders                                         33             84              4                  2         (1,307)
1 other adult                                    27             79              7                  3         (3,108)
2 adults – at least one non-elder                28             83              5                  2         (3,072)
1 adult, 1 or more children                      24             72              12                 4         (2,220)
2 adults, 1 or more children                     30             81              7                  3         (3,515)
Other                                            23             79              8                  3         (2,668)

White                                            30             81               7                 3         (17,321)
Asian                                            21             85               5                 2           (655)
Black                                            17             81               9                 4           (672)

Christian                                        32             82              6                  2         (14,186)
Muslim                                           16             84              4                  2           (579)
No religion                                      22             74              10                 4          (3,790)



                                                                                                                   6
    Bedsit                                        33             78               6                2           (142)
    Other flat or maisonette                      26             81               6                2          (7,299)
    Bungalow                                      32             81               7                3          (1,295)
    Other house                                   31             80               7                3         (10,195)

    Home on estate                                28             80               7                3         (13,426)
    Home not on estate                            31             83               5                2          (5,277)

    HA managing homes       in 1 local            30             78               7                3         (2,623)
    authority
    HA managing homes       in 2-5 local          36             83               8                2           (668)
    authorities
    HA managing homes       in 6-20 local         36             86               6                2         (1,829)
    authorities
    HA managing homes       in 21-50              22             77               8                4         (1,941)
    local authorities
    HA managing homes       in over 50            23             81               6                2         (2,221)
    local authorities

*combines ‘very satisfied’ and ‘satisfied’ **combines ‘very dissatisfied’ and ‘dissatisfied’


Relating the 2008 ‘overall satisfaction’ figures to those recorded in earlier years suggests a
fairly positive story, with the proportion of satisfied tenants having apparently risen since the
last ETS and the proportion dissatisfied being the smallest on record (see table).

Satisfaction with overall landlord service – trend over time for housing association tenants
                                                 2008           2004        1999-2000         1995
 Base                                           (9,282)        (9,240)       (10,226)       (10,224)
 % satisfied                                       81             77            79             82
 % dissatisfied                                    7              9             13             10

Sources: Existing Tenants Surveys, 1995, 1999-2000, 2004 and 2008

The recently improving trend is consistent with that depicted by the Survey of English
Housing which has recorded overall satisfaction levels among social renters rising steadily
since 2003-04 (SEH Table S822)2. This may be attributable, in part, to the substantial capital
investment ploughed into social housing in recent years under the Decent Homes
programme. Another probable explanation is the consistently improving housing
management performance recorded by local authorities since the early part of the current
decade. In the four years to 2007-08, authorities reduced uncollected rent by a third, cut the
time taken to let empty properties by a fifth, halved the proportion of urgent repairs failing
to be completed on time and speeded up the completion of non-urgent repairs by more than

2
  It should, however, be borne in mind that in absolute terms the ETS figures are somewhat more positive than
those reported by the most recent Survey of English Housing for which figures are available. According to the
latter, the proportion of social renters ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their landlord in 2006-07 was only 72%,
with 17% dissatisfied. The apparent disparity between the two sources might be partly a consequence of non-
identical wording in relevant questions although the difference is very slight (the SEH refers to satisfaction with
housing services whereas the ETS question is about the ‘overall service provided by your landlord’). Another
methodological difference between the two surveys is the point in the interview when the question is asked
(much earlier in ETS than in SEH).


                                                                                                                    7
a quarter3. Moreover, the proportion of local authorities rated by the Audit Commission as
‘good’ or ‘excellent’ on housing services rose from 44% to 72% in the five years to 20074.

Light is also shed on tenant views about recent changes in landlord services by the SEH
question addressed to council tenants where tenants are asked whether they had noticed
any change in the overall standard of service provided in the previous two years. Most of
those questioned in the 2006-07 survey (60%) reported no change. Of the others, however,
more than twice as many (27%) believed the service to have improved than the proportion
who considered it to have deteriorated (13%). Asked in what respects the quality of the
service had changed, the repairs service was by far the most frequently mentioned issue
among both those seeing services as improved and those believing services to have
deteriorated.




3
 Pawson, H. (2009) Analysis of English local authority housing management performance 2007-08; York:
Housing Quality Network
4
 Analysis collated from data accessible at: http://www.audit-
commission.gov.uk/localgov/audit/cpa/CPA_STCC/scores/Pages/Default.aspx


                                                                                                       8
Analysing the key drivers of overall satisfaction
Looking at statistical relationships between overall satisfaction with landlord and a range of
variables collected on the survey form can provide insight into ‘covert’ factors that drive
satisfaction. Ipsos MORI conducted Key Drivers Analysis (KDA) to identify those factors
which underlie tenant responses on overall satisfaction with landlord – that is, those other
opinions and experiences which are related to the cited level of satisfaction. KDA uses
regression analysis to find the combination of answers which can best explain the dependent
or target variable (in this case satisfaction with overall service provided by the landlord).

If, over time, tenants’ views in respect of a key driver improve, overall satisfaction should
also increase. Similarly, if tenants become less positive in relation to a key driver, this will
have a negative impact on overall satisfaction. These drivers can also be interpreted as
‘predictors’ of satisfaction, in as much as a high positive (or negative) score on one of these
factors is associated with a relatively high (or low) level of satisfaction.

The analysis shows the amount of variance around the target variable explained by the
model. This is a measure of how well we can explain the variation in the dependent variable
and is expressed as a percentage. The nearer this percentage is to 100, the better the fit of
the model, in terms of the power of the included ‘predictor’ factors in statistically explaining
overall satisfaction.

We would say that models explaining 30% or over are relatively strong predictive models.
The model presented on the next page predicts 54% of overall variance. This means that
other factors, not included in the survey, will also influence overall satisfaction (there will
always be a certain amount of any such model which is unexplained, no matter how many
possible drivers are included). Nevertheless, the model is a strong predictor of satisfaction.




                                                                                                   9
                              Top 10 drivers of satisfaction with overall
                             service provided by landlord     – all tenants
                                                             1. Agree being an HA/ LA/ ALMO tenant a a good type
                                                            1. Agree being an HA/LA/ALMO tenant is is good type ofof
    54% of variance                                             housing tenure when compared with other tenures
                                                                 housing tenure when compared with other tenures
       explained                               2.80                2. Satisfied with the way your landlord deals
                                                                    2. Satisfied with the way your landlord
      by the model                                                          with repairs and maintenance
                                                                             with repairs and maintenance
                                                    2.21
                                                                3. Agree your landlord keeps your current home
                                                                 3. Agree your landlord keeps your current home
                                                     1.69                       in a decent condition
                                                                                 in a decent condition
                                                               4. Neighbourhood mixed in terms of race/ ethnicity
                                                                4. Neighbourhood mixed in terms of race/ ethnicity
                                                     0.84                is positive for the neighbourhood
                                                                          is positive for the
         Overall                                     0.87         5. Agree my home is in a poor state of repair
                                                                   5. Agree my home is in a poor state of repair
    Satisfaction with
                                                     0.82        6. Have made a complaint in the last 12 months
      service from                                                6. Have made a complaint in the last 12 months
                                                     0.68
        landlord                                                 7. Do not consider neighbourhood to be mixed
                                                                  7. Do not consider neighbourhood to be mixed
                                                    1.18                     in terms of race/ ethnicity
                                                                              in terms of race/ ethnicity

                                                   0.65         8. Satisfied with neighbourhood as a place to live
                                                                 8. Satisfied with neighbourhood as a place to live

                                                   1.70           9. This is not a neighbourhood where people
                                                                   9. This is not a neighbourhood where people
                                                                                   would like to live
                                                                                    would like to live
                                                                          10. Aware of mystery shopping
                                                                           10. Aware of mystery shopping
                                                                            as a way of getting involved
                                                                             as a way of getting involved
Base: 19,167 tenants   – Existing Tenants Survey                                                                       7




The figure also shows whether each factor identified as a driver influences overall
satisfaction in a positive or negative direction. Those in green are factors positively related to
overall satisfaction whereas those in red indicate a negative relationship, with each identified
factor ranked in relation to its significance in explaining the variation in overall satisfaction.

The figures cited in the chart show the strength of association for each factor when
respondent groups are compared. Odds ratios are used here which compare the odds of an
event (in this case overall satisfaction with landlord) occurring in one group against the odds
of it occurring in another group. An odds ratio greater than 1 indicates satisfaction is more
likely in that group whereas an odds ratio less than 1 indicates satisfaction is less likely in
that group. Those who agreed that being a social tenant was a good type of housing tenure
were more likely to be satisfied with their landlord overall than those who disagreed that
being a social tenant is a good type of housing tenure. Those who considered their
neighbourhood to be mixed in terms of race or ethnicity were less likely to be satisfied with
their landlord, overall, than those who didn’t see their area as mixed in racial or ethnic
terms.

From this analysis it can be seen that the strongest positive drivers of overall satisfaction
across all tenant groups related to:

   a view that renting from a local authority/ALMO/housing association represented a good
    type of tenure
   satisfaction with repairs and maintenance services
   the perceived condition of the current home




                                                                                                              10
The importance of repairs and maintenance services and the general condition of the home
is very much to be expected. It is also no surprise that those who were satisfied with their
housing tenure when compared with other tenures were more likely to be satisfied with their
landlord overall. For this factor, however, it is much harder to identify the direction of
causality – tenants could be more satisfied with their landlord because of the positive view of
their tenure, or their satisfaction with tenure may be driven by a good service provided by
their landlord.

Satisfaction with neighbourhood, awareness of specific opportunities to get involved (in this
case via mystery shopping) and perceived ‘clean streets’ were also positive, but weaker,
drivers of overall satisfaction. Again it is no surprise that those tenants who were more
aware of channels of influence were more likely to be satisfied overall. This forms an
important part of the communication mechanisms between landlords and tenants, a factor
that is closely associated with strong overall satisfaction scores.

The analysis also indicates the importance of place to overall satisfaction levels which is likely
to reflect a complex interaction of factors some of which the landlord may be perceived to
have some control over (such as clean and tidy streets) and some over which they have less
influence (aspects around respect, vandalism and graffiti are more likely to be considered
police matters).

Views on the nature of the neighbourhood also featured strongly as negative drivers. Those
who saw ethnically mixed neighbourhoods as positive were less likely to be satisfied with the
overall service provided by their landlord as too were those who did not consider their
neighbourhood to be mixed in this way.

Clearly the ethnic diversity within neighbourhoods was an important factor and it is
interesting that those who thought mixed neighbourhoods were positive were also less likely
to be satisfied. This may reflect that while these tenants were positive about a diverse
neighbourhood, in principle, they may have considered the area in which they currently lived
as homogenous in this respect. The analysis also shows that those who did not consider the
neighbourhood to be desirable, as well as those areas seen as being affected by anti-social
behaviour like drunkenness or rowdy activity, were also less likely to be satisfied.

The other key negative drivers identified include those tenants who considered their home to
be in a poor state of repair as well as those who had made a complaint to their landlord
within the last year. Other Ipsos MORI research indicates that the majority of tenants
making contact with their landlord do so about repairs and maintenance issues and again
this emphasises the importance of the repairs service to overall satisfaction.




                                                                                               11
Opinions on being a social sector tenant
Related to their views about social landlord services are tenant opinions about living in a
home managed by a local authority, ALMO or housing association. Importantly, these
questions were asked in an ‘open-ended’ way; that is, responses were unprompted.

More than four out of five tenants (84%) cited at least one of the factors listed in the graph
below as a ‘good point’ about being a tenant in their sector. Some 50% cited one or more
‘bad points’ (such as those listed in the graph). The propensity to cite negative factors was
somewhat higher among respondents aged 18-24 (58%) and especially among black tenants
(69%).

The most frequently cited ‘good point’ was that living in the sector enabled a tenant to
access a ‘good repairs and maintenance service’. Asked to cite up to three ‘good points’,
almost a third of tenants mentioned this factor, with a significant proportion also perceiving
that tenants in the relevant sector benefit from ‘homes [being] kept in a good state of
repair’. Another theme was value for money, with more than a quarter of tenants seeing that
being charged a ‘reasonable rent’ was an attractive element of the package, with 17%
mentioning as important that their rent was ‘cheaper than buying’.


                Good points about being a tenant of a local authority/ALMO/housing association


              Good repairs and maintenance service                                                                         30%
                                        Reasonable rent                                                                  28%
                                 Good quality housing                                                         19
                                  Cheaper than buying                                                   17%
                                          Good landlord                                                 17%
                  Homes kept in good state of repair                                              15%
                                    Friendly neighbours                                           15%
                     Landlord provides decent homes                                        11%
           Better than being another type of tenant                             7%
                                      Security of tenure                   5%
                                       Security of home                    5%
          Ability to choose the location of my home                    4%
  Located near useful facilities (schools, shops etc)                  4%
           Access to support services (eg warden)                      4%
           Access to other council/landlord services                   4%
                   Landlord provides modern homes                      4%
         Choice over what happens to my property                      3%
                      Access to Tenants' Associations                 3%
                     It is like owning your own home              2%
                                             Right to buy        1%
                         none (including 'don't know')                                                 16%

                                                            0%         5%            10%         15%         20%   25%   30%        35%



Base: 19,297 tenants

As noted above, by comparison with the proportion of tenants who cited ‘good points’, the
proportion citing ‘bad points’ about living in their sector was relatively small. As shown
above, virtually half cited no bad points. The most frequently mentioned negatives
concerned exposure to anti-social behaviour and the ‘poor state of repair’ in which homes

                                                                                                                               12
were kept. Hence, while it may be seen as encouraging that 15% of tenants identified their
sector with ‘friendly neighbours’ (on the previous page), two thirds of this number saw
‘problem neighbours’ as a hazard of being a social renter (below).

        Bad points about being a tenant of a local authority/ALMO/housing association



                       Anti social/noisy neighbours                      10%
             Homes kept in a poor state of repair                        10%
                             Don't own the property                 7%
                       Lack of facilities for                       7%
                                                Parking             7%
                                Poor quality housing                6%
     Little choice over the type of house I live in                 6%
  Little choice over what happens to my property                    6%
                             Little choice of location          5%
                                        Rents too high          5%
                          Lack of recycling facilities          5%
                  Structural problems to the home              3%
                                        Bad landlords          3%
                    Can't invest in housing market             2%
                                      Home too small           2%
                                       No right to buy         2%
        Having to deal with Tenants' Associations              2%
             Home not suitable for my/our                  1%
                                      No pets allowed      0%
                      None (including 'don't know')                                               49%

                                                          0%        10%        20%   30%   40%   50%     60%



Base: 19,129 tenants

Comparing the 2008 ratings of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ points across housing association, local
authority and ALMO categories reveals no marked differences in tenant views.

As noted above, with previous ETS having surveyed the housing association sector
periodically since 1995, some trend over time analyses are possible in relation to association
tenants. Comparing the ‘good points’ about being a housing association tenant cited in the
2004 and 2008 surveys indicates a marked increase in tenants citing repairs services or the
standard of property as a ‘good point’ about having an association as a landlord. For
example, the proportion who mentioned ‘good repairs service’ was up by nine percentage
points, the percentage who cited ‘home kept in good state of repair’ was up by 11 and the
proportion who identified associations with ‘good quality housing’ was up by 12%. This
might well reflect the impact of Decent Homes programme investment, as well as perceived
improvements in day-to-day repairs services.




                                                                                                        13
Services social landlords should provide
As might be anticipated, virtually all tenants saw repairs and maintenance to their home as a
landlord responsibility (see table below). Almost nine out of ten also believed their landlord
should take charge of repairs and maintenance to shared facilities. At the other end of the
scale, relatively few tenants saw ‘reducing crime’ as a legitimate element of the landlord
‘offer’. It would seem from these results that most tenants may draw a firm distinction
between the concepts of ASB (a landlord responsibility) and ‘crime’ (a police matter).

Tenants believing specified services should be provided by their landlord:

(a) Breakdown by tenure/landlord type
                                                     All       LA       ALMO       HA       LSVT
 Base size                                        (19,307)   (4,998)   (5,027)   (5,616)   (3,666)
                                                     %          %         %         %         %
 Home repairs and maintenance                        96         92        98        97        98
 Repairs and maintenance to shared facilities        89         88        93        85        90
 A high quality home                                 88         84        92        86        90
 Housing advice                                      64         71        61        64        59
 Helping tenants get better services from other
                                                     61         61        71        55        57
 service providers
 Helping tenants improve their local
                                                     55         66        58        45        49
 environment
 Providing community facilities                      35         43        42        22        31
 Information about care and support services         22         25        23        19        20
 Money, benefits and debt advice                     22         23        25        21        18
 Working with local organisations to improve
                                                     21         25        22        17        17
 services
 Advising tenants on business start-up               18         15        27        14        13
 Employment and training support                     15         16        21        13        9
 Reducing crime                                      12         14        16        10        10


(b) Breakdown by respondent age
                                        All       18 - 24    25 - 39   40 - 54   55 - 64    65+
Base size                             (19,307)    (1,117)    (5,032)   (4,990)   (2,737)   (5,314)
                                        %           %          %         %         %         %
Home repairs and maintenance            96          97         95        95        97        98
Repairs and maintenance to
                                        89          89         88        88        91        91
shared facilities
A high quality home                     88          85         86        87        90        90
Housing advice                          61          61         62        62        63        59
Helping tenants get better services
                                        55          61         52        51        62        58
from other service providers
Helping tenants improve their
                                        36          38         36        33        38        36
local environment
Providing community facilities          18          21         18        17        19        17
Information about care and
                                        64          68         61        61        71        67
support services
Money, benefits and debt
                                        22          24         21        21        24        23
advice

                                                                                             14
 Working with local
 organisations to improve               12          13          13        11         14        12
 services
 Advising tenants on business
                                        15          19          14        15         16        15
 start-up
 Employment and training
                                        21          21          18        20         24        23
 support
 Reducing crime                         22          23          19        20         25        26

Notes: (b) excludes 16-17 year olds because of the small number of such tenants. The table
(a) excludes cases where information on tenure was missing; table (b) excludes cases where
information on age of tenant was missing.

The findings set out in (a) suggest that, by and large, tenant views on landlord
responsibilities varied relatively little according to the type of landlord concerned. Where
there were exceptions to this rule these tended to involve local authority and ALMO tenants
tending to be ‘more demanding’. The two ‘services’ which particularly stood out in this
respect were ‘Helping tenants improve their local environment’ and ‘Providing community
facilities’. This probably reflects tenants’ recognition that – unlike housing associations – local
authorities are by their nature multi-function organisations. As shown in (b) there was little
sign of distinct age-related differences in tenant expectations on the range of services
landlords should provide.

As noted in the table, only relatively small numbers of tenants believed that social landlords
should provide services beyond the ‘core functions’ of housing management. For example,
only just over a fifth saw it as appropriate for landlords to provide advice on debt
management and welfare benefits. Instead, the vast majority of tenants (68%) saw this as a
service which should be provided by another agency.

Similarly, while recent years have seen a growing emphasis on the need for social landlords
to address the ‘worklessness agenda’, the survey findings suggest that relatively few tenants
saw landlord responsibilities as properly including functions such as advising tenants on
business start-up or employment and training support. Again, most tenants felt it should be
up to other organisations to provide such services. This is not necessarily a surprising finding
given that social landlord involvement in such areas remains a relatively unfamiliar concept.




                                                                                                15
Scope for trading off rent levels and landlord
responsibilities
Tenancy agreements define the services landlords undertake to provide in return for rent. To
gauge tenants’ willingness to pay higher charges for extra services, tenants were asked
whether this might be acceptable. Examples of additional provision cited in the question
were ‘more frequent cleaning of communal areas or window cleaning’. As shown in the table
below, only a small proportion of tenants favoured such an option. However, a much larger
proportion were interested in taking on greater responsibility in return for reduced rent. The
question evoking these responses suggested that this might involve the tenant ‘carrying out
minor repairs to the home yourself’.

In terms of landlord type it appears that ALMO tenants tended to be rather less enthusiastic
about the principle of varying the rent to match changes in the split of responsibilities
between landlord and tenant (see (a) below). While it is difficult to speculate what factors
might underlie this, it appears from (b) that interest in such ideas is fairly consistent across
all age groups other than that involving people aged over 65. Willingness to consider such
options is not related to whether a tenant is paying the rent from their own funds. The
proportion of tenants interested in the two options below was little different for those
receiving housing benefit and for those ineligible for HB.

Views about the scope for trading off rent levels and landlord responsibilities:

(a) Breakdown by tenure/landlord type
                                                     All       LA       ALMO         HA       LSVT
 Base size                                        (19,307)   (4,998)   (5,027)     (5,616)   (3,666)
                                                     %          %         %           %         %
 Willing to pay more rent for better services        10         13        7           10        11
 Willing to accept more responsibility for           29         37        20          31        28
 less rent

(b) Breakdown by respondent age
                                         All       18 - 24   25 - 39   40 - 54     55 - 64    65 +
 Base size                             (19,307)    (1,117)   (5,032)   (4,990)     (2,737)   (5,314)
                                         %           %         %         %           %         %
 Willing to pay more rent for            10          14        11        11          10        7
 better services
 Willing to accept more                  29          33        35        34          31        16
 responsibility for less rent

Notes: (b) excludes 16-17 year olds because of the small number of such respondents. Table
(a) excludes cases where information on tenure was missing; (b) excludes cases where
information on age of respondent was missing.




                                                                                                16
Satisfaction with specific social landlord services
Repairs and maintenance
Extensive survey evidence demonstrates that repairs and maintenance services were most
widely seen as the most important landlord activity. For example, the ETS 2004 found 73%
of housing association tenants saw repairs and maintenance services as a ‘very important’
landlord activity. Similarly, the TSA’s National Conversation survey reported that 61% of a
representative sample of tenants across the entire social rented sector saw this as the most
important landlord activity5.


                                     Satisfaction with repairs and maintenance services

       100%

        90%
                     26%                           25%                       25%                    27%                  26%
        80%

        70%

        60%

        50%          48%                                                     50%                    47%                  50%
                                                   54%
        40%

        30%

        20%          12%                                                     10%
                                                    9                                               12%                  11%
        10%           8%                            7                        7%                     6%                   7%
                      6%                            4                        6%                     5%                   5%
         0%
                      LA                          ALM                        HA                     LSVT                 ALL

                                         very dissatisfied    dissatisfied    neutral   satisfied   very satisfied



Base: 19,066 tenants (LA: 4,942; ALMO: 4,992; HA: 5,560; LSVT: 3,572)

Across the 2008 ETS sample, just over three quarters of tenants professed themselves
satisfied with their landlord’s repairs and maintenance service – see the table below. Slightly
stronger ratings were recorded for ALMOs than for other landlord types.

As shown below repairs service satisfaction ratings were related to age of respondent, with
the proportion of young people unhappy with the service being three times the comparable
figure for the over 65 age group.

Satisfaction with repairs and maintenance service: breakdown by selected characteristics
                                              Very          All      All dis-   Very dis-                            Base size
                                            satisfied   satisfied   satisfied    satisfied
                                                            *          **
 All                                            26         76          11             5                              (19,307)

    Respondents   aged     18   -   24                       17              63            21              11        (1,117)
    Respondents   aged     25   -   39                       21              72            16              7         (5,032)
    Respondents   aged     40   -   54                       23              74            13              6         (4,990)
    Respondents   aged     55   -   64                       27              79            10              4         (2,737)

5
    GfK NOP Social Research (2009) The National Conversation Research Programme; Report to the TSA


                                                                                                                         17
 Respondents aged 65 plus                   35          83            7            3         (5,314)

 1 elder                                    38          83           13           3          (3,336)
 2 elders                                   32          84           13           2          (1,307)
 1 other adult                              24          74           20           5          (3,108)
 2 adults – at least one non-elder          24          78           10           5          (3,072)
 1 adult, 1 or more children                20          63           21           11         (2,220)
 2 adults, 1 or more children               26          75           13           5          (3,515)
 Other                                      18          74           14           6          (2,668)

 White                                      27          75           13            5        (17,321)
 Asian                                      15          82           9             4          (655)
 Black                                      12          71           14            5          (672)

 London                                     15          81           9             3         (2,066)
 South                                      29          78           10            4         (4,094)
 Midlands                                   29          69           16            7         (6,118)
 North                                      29          76           14            6         (6,986)

 HA managing homes in 1 local               28          72           15            7         (2,623)
 authority
 HA managing homes in 2-5 local             37          79           14            5             (668)
 authorities
 HA managing homes in 6-20 local            30          80            9            4         (1,829)
 authorities
 HA managing homes in 21-50 local           19          69           15            8         (1,941)
 authorities
 HA managing homes in over 50               22          77           11            4         (2,221)
 local authorities
*combines ‘very satisfied’ and ‘satisfied’ **combines   ‘very dissatisfied’ and ‘dissatisfied’

Again, some differences show up more clearly in relation to the proportion of tenants
reporting themselves ‘very satisfied’ with their landlord’s repairs service. On this measure
both Asian and black tenants were much less strongly represented. Given that Asian and
black tenants are disproportionately represented in London (where they accounted for 29%
of interviewees as compared with 10% nationally), it is probably to be expected that tenants
of landlords operating in the capital are less liable to report themselves ‘very satisfied’ with
this service than tenants elsewhere in the country (see table above). Among housing
associations there are signs that landlords with the most ‘disparate’ stock evoke slightly
weaker ratings than others.

The table on satisfaction with repairs and maintenance suggests a largely encouraging
picture in terms of trends in satisfaction with the repairs service provided by housing
associations. The proportion of tenants content with the service appears to have risen
steadily and, while the incidence of dissatisfaction was also up slightly in 2008, the difference
is too small to be significant. Equally, reference to the annual figures available from the
Survey of English Housing indicates a steady trend of improvement across social renting as a
whole over the past few years. SEH results show the proportion of local authority, ALMO and
housing association tenants satisfied with repairs and maintenance services rising by five
percentage points in the four years to 2006-07, while the percentage dissatisfied dropped by
six per cent over this period (SEH Table S820).


                                                                                                   18
Satisfaction with repairs and maintenance service – trend over time for housing association
tenants
                                                   2008             2004          1999-2000
 Base size                                        (9,282)          (9,240)         (10,226)
 % satisfied                                         75               72              67
 % dissatisfied                                      13               11              22
Sources: Existing Tenants Surveys, 1999-2000, 2004 and 2008 (question not asked in 1995
survey)

Tenant opinions on last repairs completed (within the previous 12 months):
(a) Proportion of tenants ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’
                                                     All    LA     ALMO     HA            LSVT
 Base size                                       (19,307) (4,998) (5,027) (5,616)        (3,666)
                                                      %      %       %       %              %
 Being told when workers would call                  86     83      90      82             88
 Time taken before work started                      82     80      87      77             84
 Speed with which work completed                     85     85      88      82             87
 Attitude of workers                                 91     90      92      90             93
 Quality of work                                     85     83      88      81             88
 Tidiness of workers                                 89     88      90      88             91
 Being kept informed about scheduling                84     81      88      80             88
 Overall satisfaction with last repair               85     83      88      82             87

(b) Proportion of tenants ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’
                                                     All        LA    ALMO       HA       HA -
 Sample size                                     (19,307) (4,998)    (5,027)   (5,616)   (3,666)
                                                     %          %       %         %         %
 Being told when workers would call                  8          10      5        10         6
 Time taken before work started                      10         11      7        14         8
 Speed with which work completed                     7           8      5         9         6
 Attitude of workers                                 3           3      2         4         2
 Quality of work                                     7           8      5         9         5
 Tidiness of workers                                 4           5      3         5         3
 Being kept informed about scheduling                8           9      6        10         6
 Overall satisfaction with last repair               8           8      6         9         7


Some 42% of tenants reported having had a repair to their home completed in the 12
months preceding the survey. Responses to a series of questions about their most recent
experience of the repairs service are summarised in the table above. While satisfaction rates
appear generally high across all landlord types there appears to be a pattern of slightly
stronger ratings among tenants of ALMOs and stock transfer housing associations. Beyond
this, tenant ratings of the service experienced in relation to their ‘most recent repair’ were
similar to those for the repairs service in general – see previous table (eg with somewhat
lower satisfaction scores for young respondents and for black and Asian tenants).




                                                                                            19
Landlord handling of complaints
The way that organisations handle complaints about their services is an important barometer
of their overall approach to ‘customer care’. Exactly what constitutes a ‘complaint’ is of
course a matter for debate. For example, should a reported need to replace a broken
window be properly described as a ‘complaint’? The National Housing Federation uses the
term ‘complaint’ to describe: ‘a criticism that expects a reply and requires action or changes
to be made’6. A slightly more specific formulation would be ‘a service user’s report of
organisational failure in relation to published service standards’.

Leaving open the precise definition of ‘complaint’, the ETS asked tenants about their
experience of complaining about housing services. Some 14% reported having made a
complaint during the previous year. Another five per cent had ‘felt like’ complaining. There
were some apparent differences in the incidence of complaints according to age of tenant.
While over 20% of those aged 18-24 had complained, this was true for only 11% of those
aged over 65. Cross-tabulating by tenure, the propensity to complain was higher for housing
association and local authority tenants (16% and 18%) than for LSVT, HA and ALMO tenants
(10% and 12%).

Complaints procedures established by organisations such as social landlords generally seek
to formalise the way that recognised ‘complaints’ are investigated and responded to.
Discounting the instances where tenants were unable to remember the details, just under
half of the ‘complaints’ registered in the previous year were reportedly made via the
landlord’s formal complaints procedure.

The matters at issue in (what tenants considered as) complaints reported to landlords in the
year preceding the survey broke down as follows:

     day-to-day repairs – 48% (the issue evoking most complaints from tenants of all age
      groups)
     anti-social behaviour –18%
     major works (ie new windows, kitchens etc) – 14%
     neighbourhood – five per cent
     external decoration – three per cent
     other – 11%


Of these complaints, just over half were seen by tenants as ‘ongoing’. Among the remainder
(and discounting responses from those unable to recall the result), the reported outcomes of
‘completed’ instances broke down as follows:

     landlord solved the problem – 47%
     no action was taken as landlord couldn't do anything about it – 11%
     landlord failed to provide an adequate explanation – nine per cent
     landlord kept me updated on progress of problem – eight per cent
     received an apology – seven per cent
     landlord provided explanation as to why problem couldn't be solved – four per cent
     received compensation – three per cent


6
    National Housing Federation; complaints procedure; http://www.housing.org.uk/Default.aspx?tabid=552


                                                                                                          20
It should be noted that tenants could opt for two or more of the above responses – hence,
those reporting having received compensation could also have stated that their landlord had
‘solved the problem’.

Given the relatively small numbers of cases involved it is not feasible to compare the
‘complaint responsiveness’ of different categories of social landlord. More specifically focused
research would be needed to probe such issues in more detail. In aggregate, however, the
results above appear quite encouraging in that more than half of cases resulted in a
‘solution’ or an explanation of why no solution was possible. Nevertheless, it should be noted
that more than half of all recently-raised ‘complaints’ reportedly remained ‘ongoing’ at the
time of the survey. Hence, some may be resolved as yet.

What is the relationship between complaints and overall satisfaction with the landlord’s
service? Notably, the overall ‘dissatisfaction’ rate among the eight per cent of tenants with
‘ongoing’ complaints was 30% as compared with seven per cent across all tenants. A survey
of this kind cannot determine the causality involved here but these findings do at least
suggest a hypothesis that failure to resolve complaints is an important factor underlying
discontent with landlord services.




                                                                                             21
Conclusions
In combination with other recent survey findings, the ETS results paint a fairly positive
picture of the sector. Although scope for further improvement remains, satisfaction rates do
generally appear to be high and rising. While social landlords of different kinds have been
subject to varying funding mechanisms and regulatory demands, there is little evidence of
any marked differences in terms of tenant perspectives on services. Neither is there any
general sign of less positive views about landlord services among BME tenants.




                                                                                           22
Existing Tenants Survey 2008
Tenant perspectives on social landlord services
The Existing Tenants Survey is a large and comprehensive survey of social housing tenants.
The survey was undertaken between August and October 2008 for tenants, and February to
April 2009 for shared owners.

This report focuses on the survey findings that relate to social housing tenants’ perceptions
of their landlord’s services. As well as drawing on the Existing Tenants Survey, this paper
also makes reference to other recent survey data which sheds light on tenants’ views about
landlord services.




                                                                                            23

								
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